South Florida

Highlighting Importance of Police Dogs Amid Death of French K-9

The death of French police dog Diesel has been trending worldwide Wednesday. He was killed during raids targeting the suspected planner of last week's Paris attacks, 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

On Wednesday, NBC 6 received a closer look at just how important those police dogs are in helping in the fight against terrorism.

We spent some time with the K-9 Unit at the Coral Gables Police Department. Officers said losing a police dog can be just like losing a human police partner.

Diesel, 7, was a Belgian Malinois.

"If you talk to any K-9 handler, they will tell you, losing your dog is the hardest experience," said Officer Gordon Dickinson with CGPD.

Officer Dickinson is the longest standing member of the CGPD K-9 Unit. His dog Stitch is his third in 16 years. He said medical issues forced him to put his first two down, and it was hard. He can only imagine what the French officer who Diesel was assigned to is going through.

"I suspect he's distraught. It's very tough."

French police tweeted the announcement of Diesel's death, and it was retweeted thousands of times.

William Delaney is with the National Police Support Team. The organization has donated bullet proof vests for dogs like these to different police departments in South Florida. He said K-9's must be protected, just like their human police partners. Often times, the animals are the first line of defense.

"They will send these dogs in where they don't go," Delaney explained.

French police did not say exactly how Diesel died but said it happened during the raids, and it was reported a woman set off a suicide vest.

Belgian Malinois dogs have a proud tradition in law enforcement and are valued for their ability to detect the odor of explosives, accelerants and narcotics.

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